NEW YORK – Japan’s leading kabuki actor, Nakamura Kankuro V, announced Tuesday his grand plan to re-create an authentic 17th-century kabuki theater in the heart of Manhattan for the Lincoln Center Festival, which opens in July.
“It’s like a dream come true,” Nakamura, 48, told a news conference in New York.
Nakamura first developed the idea of bringing the temporary kabuki hut to New York more than two decades ago.
Under the project, Nakamura will re-create his portable theater, dubbed Heisei Nakamuraza, in the Damorosch Park area of the Lincoln Center, where visitors will experience the ambience of a small Japanese village.
While the audience is not required to remove their shoes inside the theater, the seats, the stage and every other detail will be designed to reflect the feel of a 17th-century kabuki theater in Tokyo, where Nakamura’s ancestors performed.
Growing up in Japan’s leading kabuki family, Nakamura has had a number of opportunities to perform kabuki abroad. He declared that the 1978 performance with his father, Kanzaburo, in New York’s Metropolitan Opera was the most memorable one.
“The New York audience was absolutely unique,” Nakamura said, describing the spectators as enthusiastic and critical — yet showing a great deal of love for the actors.
While traditional kabuki is directed by the head of a troupe, Nakamura developed the idea of collaborating with theater directors as he performed in experimental theaters such as Kanamaruza and Shibuya Cocoon.
While exploring the boundary between “classic” and “modern,” Nakamura said he has also found the classics to be strikingly modern on occasion.